THE head pro at one of Bradford's top golf clubs has expressed his frustration that golf courses and driving ranges are set to be forced to close on Thursday as part of the national lockdown.

As part of the rules, all indoor and outdoor leisure activities below the "elite level" must stop, including golf.

Nathan Stead, Head PGA Professional at Shipley Golf Club, based in Beckfoot Lane, Bingley, said the ban on golf in the new national lockdown was a “big blow”.

He said: “When we reopened after the first lockdown we had a big influx of new members so the club is now full, and this now might mean a lot of members might be asking for refunds for the time they will miss.

“Personally I’ve had to cancel all my lessons, and ahead of Christmas the retail side is going to take a hit too with the business the pro shop would be doing all moving to online retailers who can deliver.

“England Golf and the PGA have worked with the Government to make golf safe to play. We have tools to retrieve your ball from the hole so you don’t have to touch anywhere near the cup, and bunkers are raked with your club or foot.

“In the clubhouse we have a one-way system and social distancing in place. We even tried to diversify to take smaller bookings to operate like a restaurant, rather than the larger functions we usually have. At this time of the year we would usually be fully booked with events.

“The general view is that golf is very Covid safe. Obviously we wouldn’t want to do anything that would influence the infection rate but the with structure of online tee time booking so there are no crowds on the first tee, no more than two or three-balls as it was in the first lockdown and the open space on the course; I can’t say there is any sport safer than golf to play.

“So, I don’t quite understand it, but then not every club is the same and not everyone has been able to get these systems in place.

“Through the summer we had a couple of Covid-compliant charity golf days for Prostate Cancer UK and inspectors came to check and were very happy with what we did.

“So, it’s very frustrating after we’ve been doing everything we can to get people out in the fresh air, exercising and playing golf.”

England Golf, the sport's governing body, said it has "not been consulted" about the sports ban, and chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson said EG will be challenging the decision.

He said: "It is our belief that it is counter-productive to shut down a healthy pursuit which naturally lends itself to social distancing and is played in a Covid-secure manner in the open air.”